After years of rising costs and delays, the Navy’s carrier version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is expected to reach initial operational capacity in 2018.
It achieved another milestone in early 2017, when F-35Cs arrived at Naval Air Station LeMoore in California, the Navy’s first Joint Strike Fighter base.
The F-35C’s arrival will come after the Joint Strike Fighter was successfully trapped and launched aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln in September.
While the first F-35C squadron is not expected to deploy until 2021, the initial operating capability expected next year will serve as a proving ground and demonstration of the jet’s capabilities.
The F-35C is expected to not only offer upgrades in stealth and strike capability, but its technology will also allow it to serve as a hub for information distribution among other, older aircraft in the sky, according to the Navy.
Here’s a rundown on what you can expect in 2018 as sailors brace for change both inside and outside the Navy.